The Spike Island Open is an annual event when the public are given the opportunity to explore behind the scenes at this contemporary art gallery. The building itself houses over 70 individual artist’s studios, as well as a massive print studio, all of which are accessible to the public over the weekend.
The art works on display just so varied. There were paintings, sculptures, prints, photographs, installations, screenings, and performances. Basically, everything you could possibly imagine. By far the best thing about the open event though, was the opportunity to speak to each of the artists about their work. I spoke to some fascinating people over the weekend, including a couple of photographers; one of whom told me all about his gum bichromate printing process, and the other, with whom I had a fascinating discussion about the theory of ‘panopticism’ (which I learned about earlier in this course).
Perhaps my most interesting conversation I had though, was with the artist Rodney Harris, who uses rock samples to make pigments for his recreations of geological maps and cross-sections. He has even recreated William Smith’s iconic 1815 geological map of the British Isles! Speaking to him, made me realise that I need to try harder to incorporate my geological/scientific background into my current artist practice.
Another thing that I realise after attending this event, was how inspiring it is to interact with other artists. The studio environment was just so vibrant. At the risk of sounding negative about the OCA (which I’m not at all!), the lack of peer-interactions, is clearly one of the major drawbacks of online learning. This event has made me realise just how valuable it can be to engage with the artist community. I am suddenly feeling a lot more motivated to attend OCA study visits/meetings, as well as independent workshops/courses. I may even look into the practicalities of hiring a studio space when I enter level three.